ICE Awarded Contractor Hefty $15 Million No-Competition Deal for Removal of Haitian Migrants

© REUTERS / RALPH TEDY EROLHaitian migrants board an airport bus aftter U.S. authorities flew them out of a Texas border city after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico, at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti September 21, 2021
Haitian migrants board an airport bus aftter U.S. authorities flew them out of a Texas border city after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico, at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti September 21, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
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US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) awarded a $15 million contract to the GEO Group in late September without an open and full competition, it has recently been revealed.
The contract is over charter flights to help “remove approximately 15,000 Haitian migrants who have converged near a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.”
The agency justified the decision to bypass the full and open competition for government contracts because “the migrant surge was unforeseen and presents numerous substantial risks to human, health, life, and safety.”
The contract is initially for $7.8 million over a two-week period, from September 21 through October 5, with another two-week option for the same amount that could extend to October 20. Each two-week period is contracted to consist of 44 flights.
© AFP 2022 / Paul RatjeМигранты из Гаити пересекают границу США и Мексики на реке Рио-Гранде
Мигранты из Гаити пересекают границу США и Мексики на реке Рио-Гранде - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
Мигранты из Гаити пересекают границу США и Мексики на реке Рио-Гранде
It was reported that the contract was finalized just six days after the first flights were to take place.
ICE claims that the proposed fee of $7.8 million per 44 flights over a two-week period was fair, reasonable, and compared well to other existing ICE charter flight contracts. The document does not list any comparison contracts, or who they are with.
According to ICE, “a daily scheduled charter flight average cost is $8,577 per flight hour. A special high-risk charter flight average cost is between $6,929 to $26,795 per flight hour.”
A flight from Del Rio, Texas, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is around four and half hours. The cost of 44 average ICE flights at four and half hours adds up to $1.7 million. At the high end, for special high-risk charters, 44 flights would cost ICE $5.3 million, and at the low end, it would cost $1.3 million. ICE awarded the GEO Group $7.8 million to carry out 44 charter flights.
© AFP 2022 / Guillermo AriasHaitian migrants seeking asylum in the United States, queue at El Chaparral border crossing in the hope of getting an appointment with US migration authorities, in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, in Baja California, on October 7, 2016
Haitian migrants seeking asylum in the United States, queue at El Chaparral border crossing in the hope of getting an appointment with US migration authorities, in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, in Baja California, on October 7, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.10.2021
Haitian migrants seeking asylum in the United States, queue at El Chaparral border crossing in the hope of getting an appointment with US migration authorities, in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, in Baja California, on October 7, 2016
The company that was awarded the contract, the GEO Group, is a real estate investment trust fund that invests in private prisons and for-profit mental health facilities. The company has a transportation service, GEO Transport, Inc. that “provides armed, secure transportation services to federal, state and local government agencies.” The company provides both ground and air transportation operations.
A Wednesday report by the Washington Post revealed that ICE authorities have cut daily flights to just one per day this week as a result of a sharp decline in the number of Haitian migrants seeking asylum.
The handling of Haitian migrants at the border recently prompted widespread criticism from politicians after photos surfaced showing horse-mounted border authorities violently corralling migrants, largely evoking comparisons to US slavery. Many Haitians camping at the Del Rio location were doing so as part of a larger move to escape violence at home and find employment.
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